Samsung POWERbot VR9300 vacuum cleaner (updated review)

Samsung’s POWERbot VR9300 is billed as “Australia’s most powerful robotic vacuum cleaner taking cleaning to the next level.”

This is my first experience with robotic vacuum cleaners (GadgetGuy reviews include Smart Home Appliances) so forgive me if it is not as deep as I hope future robotic cleaner reviews should be. Still, if you are going to start somewhere it may as well the top-of-the-line A$1999 POWERbot VR9300 with CycloneForce.

Update 5/2/18

After the review below Samsung suggested that I hold onto the VR9300 for a little longer until I had a something to compare it to. That opportunity presented with the review of the OZVAC’s DEEBOT OZMA 930  – its premium wet and dry offering at A$1299.

It is easy to be wise in hindsight especially when this was my first robot vacuum cleaner review. I want to apologise to Samsung if any of my remarks were naive.

Without disparaging the DEEBBOT (it has is a place too), it made me realise just how good the Samsung is.

It is vastly faster to clean (about twice as fast as the DEEBOT), runs longer on a faster recharge (enough for a three-bedroom home), is brilliant on carpet as well as hard floors, picks up way more debris, has a 31cm easy clean brush, has washable filters and better negotiates door sills.

While I still won’t rush out and buy one I can now appreciate the appeal to time-poor people with the right type of home.

Back to the review

Let me summarise my findings using it on a 3-bedroom, apartment before going into detail.

  • Battery time is claimed to be 90/60/30 minutes depending on the suck power – quiet, normal or max. I got about 60 minutes in normal mode. That is usually enough for an average sized home.
  • When the battery is low it goes home to the charger and later completes any remaining cleaning.
  • It is great for timber floors, tiles, and typical domestic quality carpets with a pile of up to say, 10mm. It won’t work on shag, irregular or longer pile carpets.
  • I am constantly amazed how much dust it collects in what appears to be a relatively clean home.
  • If you have floor surface height difference of more than say 10-15mm between carpet and timber or tiles it may experience trouble getting over the lip. It will try multiple angles/approaches and if unsuccessful switch off.
  • It is best in a single level residence although the anti-stair and balcony edge detection prevents it from sailing off the edge of same. For multi-level homes you would have to manually place it on each level.
  • It will map out the house using an upwards facing camera that navigates via identifying light fittings and irregularities in the ceiling. It creates a floorplan. After several uses the floor plan is relatively accurate. Multiple sensors stop it running into chair legs etc.
  • The path it takes appears erratic but in general it will start at the charger, reverse out and start on a line 180° from the charger until it hits something. It will then reverse a few centimetres, turn 180° and start the process all over. I don’t think it has followed the same path once. I need to experiment with editing the floor plan further.
  • You can lift it up and place it in a room to be cleaned and once done it will revert to programmed cleaning.
  • You can use the remote to make it clean a specific area.
  • The house must be prepared for the cleaner. That means placing everything off the floor that could interfere with the cleaner including electrical cables, clothes, shoes, chairs, bins, footstools, side tables, even overhanging bed linen, etc.
  • It does not do edges, corners or behind doors. In the month of use we have had to use a standard vacuum cleaner to get into these spaces.
  • The .7l dust canister, filter and motorised brush must be cleaned after each use.
  • I do not yet trust it to do its job unattended although the Wi-Fi connection will send an alert if it gets caught up, or the dust bag is full etc.

My review is coloured by the fact that while it is probably the most superior robotic cleaner on the planet its quirks stopped me running out and buying one.

Interestingly my sister-in-law helped in this review. She has a much lower cost robotic vacuum cleaner and says all the above points are “minor” – she would not be without one. For now, my recommendation is if you have the right type of residence, a bit of patience to refine the floor plan, and if money is not an issue, then it could relieve you of another tedious chore.

What is a POWERbot VR9300?

Essentially it can vacuum the whole of a single level, average sized home (subject to the above caveats) on an ad-hoc or scheduled basis.

In comparison to many robotic cleaners it is largish – 378 (D) x 362 (W) x 135mm (H) and 4.9kg. That means it cannot vacuum under anything with less than 150mm clearance – that rules out under many bed ensembles and lounge suites.

It needs a 240V powers point and the docking station goes against a wall and needs 500mm clearance either side.

It has low noise levels – max is around 78dB, normal is 65dB and quiet is 55db. It is less unobtrusive than most barrel vacuum cleaners.

The larger size means it has a huge 311mm wide brush that features soft and stiff bristles, as well as rubber blades. I note that a lot of reviews of other brands lament their smaller brush size. Press two yellow tabs and the brush comes out making it very easy to remove hair and lint. A reminder that if you don’t clean the vacuum ‘hole’ every time the entry to the dust canister can become clogged.

It comes with two washable filters (use one and rinse one under a tap) and a cleaning tool.

The sensors do a great job of avoiding stairs. It also comes with a ‘Virtual Guard’ – an infra-red beam device that sets up a no-go barrier if needed. It needs two D-Cell batteries – not supplied.

The app

Available for iOS and Android Samsung Smart Home app is obviously designed to control a huge range of smart appliances. Its main purpose is to set rules for going out, coming home, good night and good morning.

The schedule function is flexible allowing single or multiple days or weekly repeat at a specified time. It also has a history to see what it has done.

Manual

Full manual here.

 GadgetGuy’s take

There is a market for smart vacuum cleaners but in my opinion a quality canister or stick vacuum cleaner is still required for thorough clean of edges and corners.

Still, the appeal of automated cleaning is interesting if you have the right house and budget for it.

Pros:

  • Collects a lot of dust and debris – more than I imagined possible
  • Best on regularly shaped areas on a single level
  • Handles most floor surfaces well
  • Won’t fly off the edge of stairs or a balcony
  • A very handy ‘spot’ clean function in the handheld remote or via the app
  • Because it is Wi-Fi based you have remote control via the internet.

Cons:

  • Not great in corners or edges – still need a standard vacuum cleaner for these
  • Recharge time from zero to full is 240 minutes
  • It is a smart appliance – you must have home Wi-Fi N 2.4GHz compatibility and the app requires a Samsung account login
  • Not 100% reliable e.g. it is not set and forget especially if you don’t prepare the house first
  • Filters and brush needs to be cleaned, and dust canister emptied, after each use
  • Pricey at $1,999 although I have seen it under $1300 at some retailers

Ratings

  • Overall:  3.6 – higher if you have the right house style and bag a bargain
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – it does more than other robot vacuums
  • Value for Money: 3 out of 5 – shop around and knock this rating up a notch
  • Performance: 3 out of 5 – its quirks can mean inconsistent outcomes
  • Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – idiot proof install
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – won’t win a beauty contest – quite industrial

Price

A$1999 – cheaper online or look for a second-hand one if you want to save money.

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